Typically, hearing loss is thought of as an issue only effecting older people – as a matter of fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of people who suffer from loss of hearing are 75 or older. And despite the fact that it’s often entirely avoidable, new research reveals an alarming number of young people are losing their hearing.
A study of 479 freshmen from three high schools conducted by The National Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing revealed that there were indications of hearing loss in 34% of them. Why is this occurring? Mobile devices with headphones or earbuds connected are suspected to be the culprit. And older people are also at risk.
In People Who Are Under 60, What Causes Hearing Loss?
There’s an easy rule regarding earbud volume for teenagers and everybody else – it’s too loud if others can hear your music. Injury to your hearing can happen when you listen to noises higher than 85 decibels – which is approximately the volume of a vacuum cleaner – for an extended period of time. A normal mobile device with the volume turned up all the way clocks in at around 106 decibels. Your hearing is injured in under 4 minutes in these conditions.
While you would think that this stuff would be common sense, the reality is kids spend around two hours every day using their devices, commonly with their earphones or earbuds connected. During this time they’re listening to music, watching videos, or playing games. And if current research is correct, this time will only get longer over the next few years. Studies show that dopamine is activated by smartphones and other devices with screens, in the brain’s of younger kids, which is the same reaction triggered by addictive drugs. Kids loss of hearing will continue to multiply because it will be increasingly challenging to get them to put their screens down.
How Much Are Young Kids at Risk of Hearing Loss?
Obviously, hearing loss offers multiple difficulties to anyone, regardless of age. But there are added problems for young people pertaining to job prospects, after school sports, or even academics. Loss of hearing at a young age results in issues with paying attention and understanding information during class, which disadvantages the student. It also makes participating in sports a lot more difficult, since so much of sports requires listening to coaches and teammates give instructions and call plays. Teenagers and younger adults who are joining the workforce will have unnecessary obstacles if their hearing loss has a negative impact on their self-esteem.
Social problems can also continue because of loss of hearing. Kids with damaged hearing often wind up needing therapy because they have a more difficult time with their friends due to loss of hearing. People who suffer from loss of hearing can feel isolated and have anxiety and depression inevitably causing mental health concerns. Mental health therapies and hearing loss treatment often go hand in hand, particularly in kids and teenagers during formative years.
How You Can Steer Clear of Hearing Loss?
The first rule to follow is the 60/60 rule – offending devices should be at less than 60% of their maximum volume for less than 1 hour a day. If you can hear your kids headphones, even if they are at 60%, you should tell them to turn the volume down.
You might also want to ditch the earbuds and go with the older style over-the-ear headphones. Traditional headphones can produce almost 10% less decibels compared to in-ear models.
Generally, though, do what you can to limit your exposure to loud sounds throughout the day. You can’t control everything, so try to make the time you’re listening to tunes free of headphones. If you do believe you’re dealing with loss of hearing, you need to see us right away.